JetBlue's CAE-driven training program starts second cycle

September 06, 2017
Written by JetBlue
JetBlue today began accepting applications for the second cycle of its innovative new pilot recruiting pathway – Gateway Select – the airline's competency-based training program for aspiring pilots.

The opening of the second window comes as JetBlue's first set of six candidates complete the airline-focused training program and continue to earn their FAA-mandated 1,500 hours of flight time.

The program provides participants with the opportunity to become JetBlue pilots after completing a rigorous four-year training program which encompasses classroom learning, extensive real-world flying experience and instruction in full-flight simulators. JetBlue partners with CAE to deliver Gateway Select's training curriculum. Gateway Select takes the best from training programs used by the U.S. military and international airlines and applies the safety standards and federal requirements for current pilots.

"The completion of this milestone proves our idea that there can be a successful competency-based pathway, with the right structure and training, to becoming an airline pilot," said Warren Christie, senior vice president of safety, security and air operations, JetBlue. "Gateway Select is the only direct path to entry into an airline in the U.S. As our second recruiting window starts, we are opening the door to making this incredible profession a reality for even more aspiring pilots."

"JetBlue's Gateway Select is one of the most innovative programs available to create the next generation of pilots," said Nick Leontidis, CAE's group president, Civil Aviation Training Solutions. "It makes the pilot career more accessible to men and women who would otherwise not be able to explore their passion for flying."

JetBlue is now accepting applications for the next round of candidates to begin the training program in January 2018. Applications for Gateway Select can be submitted at

As part of cycle one, Gateway Select candidates went through a series of assessments based on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) pilot competencies and JetBlue's own selection criteria. After analysis, 19 applicants accepted placement in the inaugural Gateway Select program.

The first cohort of six Gateway Select trainees has successfully completed the airline-focused training portion of the program. The additional candidates are completing the program in cohorts, with the next set scheduled to complete their pilot ratings prior to December 2017. Pilot trainees came from a diverse set of backgrounds and professional experiences, including a heavy machine operator, a supermarket sales clerk and an accountant.

"Each trainee comes from a unique background but they all share a natural aptitude for flying and the dream to become a pilot," Christie said. "Our pilot trainees performed extremely well throughout the program, including completing training exercises that our current pilots perform. The rigorous selection process, which measured applicants on the qualities that make a strong airline pilot, uncovered a group of trainees that will be great JetBlue pilots."

The first six pilot trainees will now move to a CAE facility in Arizona where they will work as pilot instructors and earn their required flight hours.

With Gateway Select, JetBlue is making the profession more accessible to a diverse range of candidates. JetBlue is working to recruit applicants from minority colleges and technical schools and partnering with other organizations that also seek to stimulate greater inclusion in the pilot ranks.

"OBAP is pleased to have been part of this successful recruiting initiative. JetBlue continues to be an industry leader on innovative recruiting solutions. Many are taking note as JetBlue leads," said Vanessa Blacknall-Jamison Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) Chairwoman.

Pilot trainees complete an intensive four-year program which includes a series of training phases with guidance and mentorship from JetBlue to build the skills and experience required of a pilot for a major airline. The curriculum is also aligned with JetBlue's unique customer-focused culture. JetBlue partners with CAE to help deliver Gateway Select's training curriculum, leveraging CAE's experience in delivering competency-based training programs to airlines throughout the world.

Trainees attend JetBlue University in Orlando for two weeks to learn the fundamentals of aviation and become acquainted with the company. Trainees continue to CAE's flight academy in Phoenix, AZ for 30 weeks to develop core flying skills. Upon completion, candidates receive their private pilot's licence. Trainees then return to JetBlue University for training on highly complex transport category aircraft, concluding with a JetBlue Line Operational Evaluation (LOE) and the completion of the Airline Transport Pilot – Certification Training Program (ATP-CTP). Training includes the safe and efficient operation of the Embraer 190 or the Airbus 320.

Next, trainees return to CAE in Phoenix for 12 weeks of additional FAA licensing requirements to receive their Commercial single & multi-engine instrument ratings. Trainees will then attend an instructor course to achieve their CFI (certified flight instructor) and CFII (Certified Flight Instructor – Instrument) qualifications and ratings. Upon completion, trainees then begin working as entry-level salaried instructors for CAE's flight academy while accumulating flight hours to achieve the FAA's 1,500 flight-hour requirement.
Upon meeting the FAA and Gateway Select requirements, pilots become new hires at JetBlue, where they complete the same orientation and six-week instruction that all first officers complete.

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